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This piece was actually written a long time before the previous two. Thus the continuity doesn’t quite join with what’s already been shown. I’ll need to update the facts—which may steer the conversation differently—but till then, you can have this slightly less canonical dialogue.

I woke up the next morning with Ralph’s arm around me, his body pressed against mine. I stayed still, not wanting to wake him, and thought about what my future self had said.

…I don’t want to lose Ralph. I don’t.

…I don’t want to lose Ralph.

…I don’t.

I rolled over to face him. His eyes were open… he was watching me.

“You’ve been shaking, babe.” he said. “Is something wrong?”

I kissed him. I tried to smile, but he was right—I was shaking. I couldn’t hide it.

“I don’t want to lose you,” I said.

“Why should you be losing me?” he said.

“Unless we die together,” I said, “One of us will have to go first. And you’re the adventurer.”

He laughed. “I’ll give you that,” he said. “But that was true before tonight, too. Why’s it on your mind tonight?”

I hesitated, but not for long. I’m not keeping anything from Ralph. “We weren’t the only ones to come back to tonight.” I told him about the visit from my future self.

“He came alone,” Ralph said. “Was he… like… old?”

“I couldn’t tell, in the dark. Middle-aged, certainly.”

“Did he ask you not to tell me?”


“It’s important. Did he tell you not to tell me?” he sat up, excited.

“He did.”

“But you did,” he said. “Things are changing.”

“How do you know?”

“He didn’t come back to inform you, he came… you came back to change it. And if you’re telling yourself not to tell me, but you told me anyway, then we’ve already changed timelines. If you’d remembered yourself telling me, you wouldn’t have told yourself not to tell me.”

“What…” I shook my head. “What if me telling you was the thing I’m coming back to change?”

“You wouldn’t have thought of that.”

“I just did!”

“If that was the important part of the message, you’d be stressing it more,” he said, “Enough that your past self wouldn’t crack at first questioning, like you did. The game’s different now, babe. Don’t worry.” He put his arms around me and held me to him. “Trust me.”

“I’m still afraid,” I said, into his chest.

“Then let’s get that fear behind us,” he said. “We’ve got a better computer now, so how about we hunt down immortality next?”


“It’ll be discovered eventually, right? We’ve got to find it.”

“Ralph, you’re crazy.”

He just grinned at me. “I’m gonna love ya forever, babe, if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Now you’re just being silly,” I said. I pounced him, kissed him hard, and kept him too busy to talk till noon.